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Bohemians make City Hall scene

Bohemians make City Hall scene

June 23, 1965: A group of Venice bohemians play on the steps of Los Angeles City Hall to protest a city ordinance restricting music playing after 10 p.m.

Staff writer Jack Smith reported in the June 24, 1965, Los Angeles Times:

City Council passed a law Wednesday to quiet the night drums of Venice, but the embattled bohemian colony pledged to fight them on the beaches, on the sidewalks and even in “sacred Santa Monica.”

After a resounding session in which Councilman Karl Rundberg again vilified the Venice bohemians as “scum” and “animals,” the council passed the ordinance 11 to 2. Councilmen Thomas Bradley and Ernani Bernadi voted against it.

The new law prohibits the playing of any musical instruments in any city beach or park area within 750 feet of a dwelling place between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.

Immediately after this defeat, the beatnik group gathered for a rump session on the City Hall steps –– a motley band distinguished by black berets, scraggly beards, quaint clothes and uncombed hair.

They parked on the steps with bongo and conga drums, trumpet and flute and instantly improvised a wild rhythm, full of thumps and beats, which they called the “Rundberg Bounce.”…

The ordinance was drafted by the City Recreation and Parks Department on the complaints of Venice residents that the night revels were destroying their sleep.

Councilman Bradley argued that the ordinance would restrict other types of citizens who enjoy the parks and beaches, but wouldn’t necessarily restrain the night revels at Venice.

To get around the ordinance, he pointed out, all they had to do was step out of the area under jurisdiction of the parks department – on the beach front sidewalk or “right in the heart of the residential area.”

Inspector Karl Lee said the police department was against the new law because “it won’t do what you want it to do.”…

Two different photos of bohemian musicians accompanied Smith’s story in the June 24, 1965, Los Angeles Times.

This photo by staff photographer Larry Sharkey was recently published in the May 5, 2013, Los Angeles Times accompanying an article
“UCLA Library’s ‘I’m a Stranger Here Myself’ takes on the Beats — an exhibit on the Beat Generation.”

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